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Codes and Regulations

Watershed Protection uses administrative criteria (known as “rules”) and ordinances to help prevent flooding, erosion and water pollution. The rules and ordinance processes use City staff and external stakeholders to create and refine regulations.

On November 17, 2005 the City of Austin's City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale and use of coal tar containing pavement sealants in the city and its ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction). See ordinance.

The City of Austin is crossed by multiple hazardous liquids pipelines. To protect health and safety, there are restrictions on the type of structures that may be built within 500 feet of certain pipelines.

There are many closed or abandoned landfills in the Austin area. Many operated before landfills were regulated, and may pose environmental or safety risks. Their boundaries are often unknown or poorly defined.

About 10% of land in Austin is in the floodplain, subject to the dangers of flash flooding. The Floodplain Office administers local and federal development rules, meant to limit damage and protect lives, and maintains floodplain maps and models.

The Lake Austin Task Force was commissioned by the Austin City Council to develop recommendations for future regulatory controls and enforcement mechanisms relevant to Lake Austin to promote, preserve and protect this critical public asset. In August 2013, the Lake Austin Task Force published a final report providing recommendations to Austin City Council to improve management of Lake Austin.

Although review activities are primarily the responsibility of the Planning and Development Review department, the Watershed Protection Department assists with some stormwater and environmental reviews. Find links to criteria manuals on this page.

On October 17, 2013, the Austin City Council passed a new Watershed Protection Ordinance, completing Phase 1 of the new ordinance. There's still work to be done on Phase 2, Green Stormwater Infrastructure.